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Hard left is a name often given to an internal tendency within the British Labour Party. Similar terminology is used also in the context of the Australian Labor Party.

In the 1980s in the United Kingdommarker, the term hard left referred to supporters of Tony Benn, organised in the Campaign Group and Labour Briefing, as well as Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency and Socialist Organiser. The hard left was more strongly influenced by Marxism, while the soft left had a more gradualist approach to building socialism. Politicians associated with the hard left in the Labour Party included Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner and Eric Heffer.

Paul Anderson and Nyta Mann wrote:
Labour [in the early 1980s] was... in the depths of the fratricidal blood-letting that had engulfed it after the defeat of Jim Callaghan's government.
The activist left in the constituency parties and the trade unions, with support from some left MPs, most notably Tony Benn, was in revolt against what it saw as the failure of the 1974–9 government to put Labour's principles into practice.
On policy, it was insistent that Labour adopt unambiguously radical positions, particularly withdrawal from the European Economic Community and unilateral nuclear disarmament...
But the activists' biggest priority was to make the Parliamentary Labour Party accountable to the party as a whole...
The left coalition [the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy] was a bizarre mix of radical democrats, Leninists old and new, traditional Labour leftists, feminists, libertarians and decentralists.
It was notoriously unstable, not least because it could not agree on the detail of its proposed reforms to the party constitution, and was already beginning to divide into a hard left that wanted to push the revolt to its limit and a soft left that was prepared to compromise.

In current times, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and the MPs of both the Socialist Campaign Group and the new Labour Representation Committee are seen as constituting a hard left, in contrast to a soft left represented by politicians like Jon Cruddas and those close to the views of the late Robin Cook, including both supporters and detractors of 'New Labour'.

See also


  1. Anderson and Mann, Safety First: The Making of New Labour, Granta, 1997, ISBN 1862070709 chapter 31. FAULTY LINK.
  2. Comment is free: Elections should be fun

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